Airlines are getting creative in an effort to streamline their boarding processes and get passengers on planes faster, but many see the rules as a guise to charge customers more and satisfy those who pay more.
The upshot: A lot of airlines are moving to things like paying extra to pick your seat, to bring a carry-on, to check a bag, etc.
My view: When I fly, I fly Allegiant Air if at all possible, and cost is a big part of that equation.
My round-trip flight from Florida to Wisconsin (specifically, Clearwater-St. Pete Internationl to to General Mitchell International in Milwaukee) came to a total of $120.
About six bucks of that was air fare ($11.xx minus a five-dollar discount for booking a round trip.
About $64 of it was government taxes/fees.
And I paid $25 each way for a checked bag.
I could have paid (IIRC) $12.50 each way to select my seat, but I was fine with sitting anywhere they put me. Yes, I prefer a window seat, but not so much that I'm willing to pay extra for one (I did have a window seat on the return flight, and an aisle seat on the return flight ... both of them better than the middle seat).
Each passenger is allowed a "personal item" -- a purse, laptop bag, whatever -- and the size allowance is fairly generous.
If you want a second "carry-on" item, you pay ($15 per flight, IIRC).
If you want to check a bag, you pay ($25 per flight).
Since I was going for a full week, the checked bag made sense (I did consider just mailing my stuff up and back in a flat rate box, but decided not to get too fancy just to save a few bucks).
If I was going somewhere for a day or two, I might save $10 per flight and just do a carry-on.
I like it that way.
The people complaining about this stuff prefer the old days when the fare was the fare (unless you bought first class), included a checked bag and a carry-on, and had "priority boarding" that made them feel superior to the people who had to get on after them. I'd rather be able to cut my expenses by taking only what I really need to take (instead of paying full fare even if I don't take everything allowed), and by getting on the plane whenever they feel like it's my turn to get on the plane.
So, the trip:
$120, plus gas (maybe 300 miles at ~30mpg, so add another $30 for gas). $150. About 2 1/2 hours of flying each way, with a short drive from Milwaukee to Racine and a two-hour drive at each end between Gainesville and St. Pete. So, total, call it 10 hours.
Google maps makes the drive to be about 1,100 miles, 16 1/2 hours each way. So driving would have been 33 hours and about $220 in gas if there were no hotel stays or meals purchased along the way.
Greyhound: At their cheapest fares, the trip would have cost $453.00 and involved nearly 80 hours on a bus.
I could have flown Delta or United out of Jacksonville, but that would have been at least an extra $100 in base air fare, not counting any baggage fees, etc.
Flying Allegiant, due to the features described above, saved me somewhere between $70 and $300 and between one and three days. And since my brother and his wife fed me well, etc., while I was up there at their expense instead of mine, and since I would have been eating if I had stayed home, I figure the trip was pretty much free. Heck, I may have made money on it!
So I'm not gonna complain about it.